European shares gain ground on boost from travel stocks



(Corrects second paragraph to say STOXX 600 extended gains after its third straight weekly rise, not fourth)

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Flutter, Ryanair lead travel stocks higher

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Travel & leisure index hits near 3-month highs

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China-exposed luxury companies decline

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Irish stocks rally

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Nov 7 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Monday, reversing declines from the opening bell, as a jump in travel stocks helped outweigh a drag from China-exposed luxury giants.

The benchmark STOXX 600 index .STOXX added 0.6% by 0929 GMT, extending gains after its third straight weekly rise.

Flutter Entertainment Plc FLTRF.I rose 4.5%, boosting European travel & leisure stocks .SXTP by 2.3% and helping it touch a near three-month high.

An arbitrator on Friday reaffirmed Fox Corp FOXA.O has 10 years to exercise its option to acquire an almost one-fifth stake in Flutter-owned betting app FanDuel.

Irish stocks .ISEQ jumped 2.0%, lifted by Ryanair's RYA.I 3.3% jump after it posted its largest ever first-half after-tax profit and said it expected to return to pre-COVID-19 annual profit level this year.

European luxury stocks, including LVMH LVMH.PA , Pernod Ricard PERP.PA and Hermes International HRMS.PA , dipped between 0.1% and 0.4%.

Health officials in China reiterated their commitment to strict COVID-19 curbs over the weekend, disappointing investors hopeful for a relief. Separately, data showed Chinese exports and imports both contracted in October and missed forecasts.

"I think market participants are trying to find an excuse to buy stocks," said Stephane Ekolo, strategist at Tradition in London.

"In spite of China sticking to its zero-COVID pledge, there are some in the market that still believe that China might somewhat ease its COVID-19 policy."

The STOXX 600 index has started November on steady footing, aided by a better-than-expected reporting season and hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve will deliver rate hikes in smaller increments, despite euro zone data pointing to an imminent recession.

The focus for the week will be on Tuesday's U.S. midterm elections, which will determine control of Congress. Republicans have picked up momentum in polls and betting markets and analysts see a split government - with the GOP winning the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate.

"A split government is generally good for equity markets because that puts a bit of a gridlock on certain policy changes," said Daniela Hathorn, a market analyst at Capital.com.

Among other stocks, Telecom Italia TLIT.MI jumped 7.5% as top investor Vivendi VIV.PA would start talks with Italy's new right-wing government on a new plan to create a national broadband company.

Dutch fertiliser maker OCI OCI.AS fell 3.7% to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after J.P. Morgan cut its rating on the stock on softer quarterly outlook.
Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Joice Alves; editing by Uttaresh.V


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